Archive for time management
Many of you will have heard of the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule which basically says that approximately 80% of the effects of many events, come from 20% of the causes of those events. The original idea came from looking at Italy’s income and wealth where Pareto noticed that 80% of the wealth was owned by 20% of the people but it has been observed in many other situations since. For example, 20% of the world’s population control 82.7% of global income, we dress in 20% of our favourite clothes about 80% of the time, and we spend 80% of the time with just 20% of our friends and acquaintances, etc.
I use a similar principle when I’m trying to get things done but rather than 80/20 it’s 45/15. It’s simple. I work/take action for 45 minutes and then take 15 minutes “off”.
I started doing this when I was at college and came across some research (the source of which I’ve long forgotten) that said that the maximum time we are able to work at top efficiency, is 45 minutes. I experimented with this when I was writing essays or revising for exams and discovered that I could study for longer overall and accomplish more when I applied this rule.
Nowadays, I apply the idea in many of areas of my life, especially if there’s something I’m finding it hard to motivate myself to do. But I find it particularly invaluable for when I’m working on the computer. When I’m at home, I will set an alarm for 45 minutes and then start working. When the alarm goes off I’ll get up from the desk and do something completely different such as putting on a load of washing, changing a bed or posting a letter. Then it’s back to the computer and another 45 minutes of work. The great thing about this approach is that I not only work more effectively but I’m also able to get through a load of chores without noticing I’m doing them.
If I’m working away from home I still set the alarm and use the 15 minute breaks to get a drink, walk around the office or chat with a colleague.
Strangely, I find the biggest challenge with the 45/15 approach is being disciplined enough to stop when the alarm goes off. It’s very tempting when things are going well, to keep working. However, experience has shown that working on past 45 minutes brings diminishing returns so I’ve developed the habit of standing up immediately the alarm goes off. Then it’s easier to move away and do something different. If it’s absolutely essential to finish off something I’m doing I’ll do it standing up!
If you spend a lot of time at the computer this has the added benefits of resting your eyes and moving your body so you’re putting less strain on your spine and muscles.
Also, you’ll find you come up with some great ideas in your 15 minutes “breaks” and you may even find solutions to problems you’ve been stuck on and unable to think your way out of.
I’d love to hear your experiences with the 45/15 rule so please give it a go and then leave a comment on the blog.
About a week ago I mentioned returning to the enquiry of “what is it I truly want“? I did take some time to mull that over and this is what I came up with:
1. Time with family
2. Time with friends
5. Time with inspiring people
6. Spontaneity, the unexpected, synchronicity
I started to schedule some time in my calendar for these things but then the redesign of the blog and my coaching practice took over and I left that particular task uncompleted.
This has just reinforced how essential it is to actually block out time on your calendar for ALL the things that are important to you. It’s just too easy to get caught up in a couple of areas of your life and the other things get missed. Paradoxically, I find this to be especially true when I’m really enjoying something.
So, having decided what it is I want to create, the next step is to decide what time frame I want to place these things within. For example, do I want an adventure once an hour, once a day, twice a week or once a year? Do I want to spend time with inspiring people on a daily basis . . . weekly . . . monthly?
Then having done that block out time in your calendar, both for the event itself and for planning the event, if necessary. So for example, under my travel heading I’ve decided I want to take a major trip of at least 2 weeks, once a year; a trip of at least one week, twice a year and have 4 weekends away per year.
I know I’m going to be returning to the Coaching School in Phoenix in December and I’d like to make that the major trip. So that’s going to take some planning. I’ve blocked out the trip itself on my calendar and one hour a week for 4 weeks to get the trip planned and booked. If I find that those 4 hours are not sufficient I will add more in 4 weeks time.
I went through this process with the other things I want to create more of in my life and made sure to leave plenty of gaps to allow for shifting things around due to the unexpected and to allow for spontaneity.
I plan to briefly revisit this every Monday morning (which is in my calendar, of course) to make adjustments as necessary.
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Michael Neill’s ‘Creating the Impossible in 30 Days‘ although I haven’t had much time to do many of the exercises as I’ve been busy with “work” from the Coaching School. So, appropriately, I’m going to spend the day experimenting with his Ultimate Time Management System.
The idea behind it is that time is not something you have or don’t have. You are the source of it. You make as much of it as you want.
And the system works like this:
1. Take 2 pieces of paper
2. On the first page write “The only thing I have to do today is . . .”
3. On the second page make a comprehensive list of everything you want to get done in the next week or so. Include, all you regular “to dos”, everything you’ve got to do for work and at home, as well as the things you think you’d like to do if you had more time.
4. When it’s time to do the things on your list just choose ONE item. Choose the one that appeals to you most and write it on the first page. Do it as though it’s the only thing you have to do today.
5. When you complete it cross it off both lists.
6. Choose the next thing that appeals from the second list and transfer it to the first page.
And keep repeating.
When I first heard this my mind went straight to the place of “this won’t work because I’ll never do the things that I don’t want to do but have to be done”. But the other possibility of course, is that when it really needs to be done it will the one that most appeals because I will want to relieve the stress of the consequences I would face if I didn’t do it.
We’ll see. I’m off to play now.
Leave a comment and let us know how this system works out for you . . .